Over the years pro wrestling has seen its share of angles and story lines that have crossed that invisible line of decency and in some cases morality. The recent angle involving CM Punk and Jerry Lawler where the heart attack Lawler suffered two months ago was used to get heat for Punk and to a lesser extent Paul Heyman has come under attack. While there have been a number of heart attack angles before including Fritz von Erich and there have been workers who have died from heart attacks either in the ring or shortly after like Mike DiBiase, the biggest reason this particular angle with Punk and Lawler has gotten so much attention is video being shown of paramedics performing CPR on Lawler including using “shock paddles” to restart his heart.
This past weekend there was another angle, although on a much smaller scale in attendance/viewership (the internet helps things along), in Cleveland, OH based AIW Wrestling involving handicapped wrestler Gregory Iron. For months Iron has been building a heel character in the promotion including being voted least liked performer in the company, something which Iron was trying to play off by cutting a promo in the ring that would discuss his future with AIW.
During the course of the promo Iron announced that he “had throat cancer” but would courageously battle on and not let that (cancer) stop him just as he had not let his Cerebral Palsy prevent him from becoming a professional wrestler.
Since then Iron has been the scourge of the internet and a number of the boys have turned on him as well over the comments he made that seemed to have hit a great number of people the wrong way. With so many in the business battling cancer right now including Joyce Grable, Chuck Coates and Bob Ryder and a number of benefits being held for fans, especially children, who are fighting for their lives from this terrible disease this comment from Iron was beyond stupid.
Gregory Iron called me Saturday night late wanting to talk about what had happened that night in AIW and what precipitated his comments. “I had been sick for days and had a raspy voice” he said. “I was getting legit heat in AIW and just wanted to continue that heat and when I started talking and they started to boo me, that is when I said it (that he had throat cancer).”
“I never meant to put down anyone who has cancer, I have lost people to cancer so I know what it’s like, it is horrible. In hindsight I should have said something else or at least said it in a different way like maybe ‘I’ll bet you people wish I had throat cancer’ but unfortunately it happened the way it did. Going back it is one of those things I wish I had never said…”
What Gregory Iron said about having throat cancer was an ignorant, callous and stupid thing to have said because of the sensitive nature of the subject, the number of people fighting for their lives and it is an insult to everyone who has been touched by or lost someone to the disease. This crossed that proverbial line of decency and morality that even though may be suspect to begin with, often it is difficult to recover or come back from.
Personally I was offended by what was said and I generally do not get offended that easily so I will not make excuses for Gregory Iron here, there are none to be made, what was said was stupid even if “in the moment.” But I will say Iron calling me late night to explain himself and express regret took guts and was the professional thing to do and deserving of respect.
“I want everyone know I am not a bad person…”